This week, I acquired a Motor Sport archive DVD containing scans of all 120 editions of the magazine from the ‘sixties. One reason amongst many for being keen to eventually collect a full set of these DVDs was that I could look up from contemporary race-reports the points awarded for certain shared-drive results that different sources disagree on how to score. With such an enormity of material to look at, I decided to start with the edition covering Jim Clark’s 1965 Indianapolis 500 win. It also contained race-reports for the Monaco and Belgium World Championship Grands Prix of that season, plus ‘Reflections’ pieces on each by the famed Denis ‘Jenks’ Jenkinson.
I mentioned in a previous post (The 1950 British (European) Grand Prix) that the new World Championship was largely ignored, with a single line in Autosport in the 1950 Italian GP report about Giuseppe Farina winning the drivers’ title. I knew that drivers of the early period of Formula One, such as Stirling Moss, were more interested in winning the individual events than the title. Believe it or not, the race-reports in that July 1965 edition did not even include the World Championship points-standings. On reading through, the Belgium coverage did not even mention the World Championship, whilst the Monaco report only mentioned the subject because the guaranteed-start list depended on the 1964 driver-points positions. DSJ in his ‘Reflections’ piece refered in passing, writing about the situation concerning Jim Clark missing Monaco to compete with Team Lotus in the Indy 500, to the, “nebulous World Championship”.
I decided to look up the ’65 German GP, when Jim Clark won the title with three rounds to spare. The scoring system counted only the best six results, the race at the 14·2 mile Nürburgring circuit giving Clark, in the Lotus-Climax, his sixth victory and maximum points. At the end, the report mentioned JC winning six of six entered, “must make Jim Clark undisputed Grand Prix champion driver”, plus another mention in the ‘Reflections’ piece about the Scottish racer being a true World Champion with his Indianapolis 500 win. (Clark also won the Tasman Cup and the French F2 Championship that year.)
I moved onto looking at the 1969 GP reports, and still no mention of points. In 1976, James Hunt and Nicki Lauda fighting for the title was in Britain’s national news, and I know by the ‘eighties Motor Sport were publishing F1 reports that not only included points but chassis numbers and which engine-builders prepared each of the Ford Cosworth DFVs used (the magazine has now dropped race-reports, concentrating on the history of the sport, since ownership of the title is now by the same group that publishes Autosport). I knew Formula One was a backwater sport, especially in the 1961 to 1965 era of puny 1·5 litre engines, when the discipline was in danger of being eclipsed by sportscar racing, but I am absolutely staggered that even in a specialist magazine of that period that there seemed so little interest in the World Championship compared to today.
(Unbelievably, Motor Sport do not seem to have a dedicated page on their site to publicise and sell these DVDs. If you click here, there is a link to a .pdf file that you can print off and post, or order by phone. I expect they accept cheques and postal-orders. They obviously struggle with multi-media – I have a subscription and there was quite a gap between starting their podcast and actually mentioning it in the magazine! Bless.)